UCF won the College Mixed Championships. Here's what they thought of the tournament.
September 28, 2015 by Guest Author in Opinion with 6 comments
This weekend, USA Flatball hosted its first ever tournament: the College Mixed Championships. 14 schools put together mixed rosters and competed in Axton, VA, for a shot at a $5000 cash purse.
Central Florida — featuring a team of Dogs of War and Sirens players — came away with a 14-13 double game point win over UNC Wilmington. UCF captain Austin Mercadante was kind enough to send along some thoughts about the tournament, the final, the UCF team, the Pulsar, and more.
His thoughts — lightly edited for clarity — are below.
On The Tournament In General
I think that having a mixed college tournament is a great idea. For a lot of smaller schools, it can be difficult to get enough players to be competitive in both the Men’s and Women’s divisions, but most schools should be able to field a strong combined squad — something I think the TD [Todd Curran] said in a podcast recently.
Having 14 teams made for a strange pool play format, but it wasn’t a major issue.
The tournament itself was fun to play. I believe that all the teams that we played in mixed were less chippy or argumentative (better “spirit”) than when we have played the same teams in college Men’s. That may have been due to the cash prize for the Spirit winner but I think mixed may just be a friendlier format for many players. The TD was having teams tweet Spirit scores to him, and it was interesting to see spirit scores shown publicly from individual games.
On The Weather
It was cold and rainy on Saturday. Most of the day it was weak-sauce rain and probably less than three inches total. The fields were still playable — it just made for a few errant throws and drops. Sunday was drier and there were more completed hucks so that made everyone happy.
On Playing With The Innova Pulsar
By the end of the tournament, everyone was comfortable using the Pulsar, but the first few games were a little rough with a new disc and the rain. We went 0 for 6 in flick hucks the first two games against UNCW and VCU. It wasn’t until the weather dried up in the fourth game on Saturday that we were able to throw deep shots with decent control.
Personally, I found the biggest difference was in throwing hammers where my precision was significantly decreased with the Pulsar.
The Pulsar does seem better for grabbing throws at the edge of your reach (due to the big rim), and there were a lot of impressive catches on the weekend.
On UCF’s Games
We had great success running a lot of plays through our women. Many teams struggled either to complete passes to their women or to use them effectively in their offense. We ran zone a lot to try to force teams to complete over-the-top throws with a new, wet disc.
I intentionally kept the team roster small (14) because I wanted everyone to get a lot of playing time. Everyone plays better when they are able to play a lot and many fall college teams have enormous rosters. Ideally, this tournament is a way to jumpstart the college season and figure out early what your strengths are for the upcoming season.
We have a couple men playing at Club Nationals that couldn’t make College Mixed Nationals, but maybe next season there won’t be a conflict (especially as USAU moves the club season forward).
On UCF’s Roster
Women: Shayna Brock, Janina Freystaetter, Alexa Wood, Nicole Feldman, Eli Williams, and Mia Griner.
Our women were difference makers. Several teams commented on how dominant our women were. We were able to get the big core of the Sirens team and they are used to playing a lot of points at tournaments. They were great at learning new plays and defensive strategies as well as adapting from a women’s to mixed approach on the field.
Men: Michael Fairley, Austin Mercadante, Alex Bullock, Matt Helms, James Dangler, Kyle Lockwood, Austin Malone, and Bryce Walker.
Missing a few dominant players to Club Nationals forced everyone to contribute. For several of our men, this was likely the most points they have ever played at a tournament.
On The Final
We were looking forward to a rematch against UNCW after they beat us in the first game of the weekend.
We started up a few breaks after their errant throws against our zone. After that, they stretched the zone deep which opened more hammer and scoober throws at ~20 yards. They started playing more physical and aggressive on defense, which rattled us a bit. They also had very good marks on the sideline, forcing cutters into difficult reset throws back to handlers. They were bracketing our horizontal stack which interrupted many of our starting plays.
Xavier Maxstadt had several simply amazing throws that sliced through our defense. He threw one IO backhand from 40 yards out, 30 yards in the air, to the far corner of the end zone, floating for ~5 seconds for a cross-gender score.
At halftime, the score was on serve but our team’s emotions and body language felt like we were losing because we had been broken multiple times in that half.
We decided to control the things that we could and not lose focus thinking about things that we couldn’t control. Also, the TD helped as an unofficial observer for a couple plays. We emphasized that our women’s speed was our advantage and we planned to move more men to handler spots so their defenders couldn’t help over-the-top, alowing us to huck to our women.
We got a break early in the second half, then they got a break back, then we got a break again to go up 12-10. They scored. They broke when we overthrew a potential game winning huck by inches. Then we scored and won.
I appreciated the turning of the tables when our winning score was a flick thrown from a woman from the break side over the stack back to the force side, the classic Xavier Maxstadt throw.